Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of PainScience.com: a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

Swapping back pain scapegoats 

Paul Ingraham

This little article about back pain wisely challenges the fearful assumption that spines are fragile, and that’s great … but unfortunately it just shifts the blame to “weakness” instead. Sure, exercise is pretty good for back pain — that is well established — but probably not because backs are weak.

How about we stop blaming back pain on any tangible property of the spine? Fragility, weakness, posture, degeneration, etc … they all miss the point. Pain (especially chronic pain) is multifactorial and neurological by nature and rarely has a tidy physical explanation or solution. We need to be okay with that.

Personally, I would prefer to have a strong back, because reasons … but “back pain insurance” is far down the list. We can sing the praises of a strong back all we like: the people who have both strong backs and pain are not going to go away, and there’s plenty of them. There is no compelling evidence that weakness is a risk factor for back pain.

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